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October 13, 2009

Mouse Feeding

Give these high-energy critters the right amount of calories to burn

The Humane Society of the United States

mouse eating cracker

iStockphoto

Mice are high-energy animals with rapid metabolisms. However, a little goes a long way with their tiny stomachs.

Say 'when'

Commercial food: About one tablespoon of pellets, lab blocks or seed mix once a day, supplemented by treats as described below, will be enough. Pregnant and nursing mice may need supplemental calories.

Treats: A small amount of greens plus a floret of cauliflower, a slice of apple, or several blueberries (or an equivalent amount of other appropriate treats) once a day is plenty to supplement your mouse's commercial chow. Give treats in small quantities to reduce waste and decrease the amount of time you spend looking for spoiled produce in your mouse’s cage.

Hard treats: Hard treats like small dog biscuits or branches from fruit-bearing trees can be offered once a week to help wear down your mouse's teeth.

Time to eat

Mice are nocturnal, meaning they're most active at night. This is a good time to feed them since they’re likely to be awake and alert. Mice should have continual access to food and water, so don't skip meals. But if you notice stashes of food throughout the cage, there's a good chance you're overfeeding your mouse and should cut back on the portion size.  

Serving dinner

Selecting a food dish for your mouse isn't complicated, but there are a few factors to keep in mind.

  • Look for a small bowl. Larger bowls take up valuable cage space and may encourage you to feed too much.
  • Opt for a ceramic food dish rather than a plastic one. Ceramic dishes are sturdy, chew-resistant, and difficult to overturn. They're also durable and shouldn't need to be replaced unless they become cracked or chipped. Plastic bowls are easily scratched, and those scratches can be havens for bacteria.
  • Place the food bowl in an area of the cage that’s far away from your mouse's bathroom area.
  • Wash the bowl with soapy water and rinse and dry thoroughly during the weekly cage cleaning.
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